Searching for happiness is a con.

I talked to an addictions therapist who is also a clown and a yogi, a fitness instructor and a cancer survivor to find out the secret to happiness. Did not get any of the answers I was expecting. Wrote a long feature now out in Coast Mountain Culture magazine. But at one point, the editor wondered if we open it with a kind of manifesto. I’ve read a lot of promises about the life-changing magic of [insert latest buzz here] and was feeling a little miffed at the constant pitching, when the wiser stiller people around me were offering insights that were hard-won and came, not from buying into the latest buzz and promises, but some other grace entirely. Not as easy to turn into a tagline, a scalable start-up or a slogan… and maybe that’s why we keep getting pitched the misses, and have a common feeling that something isn’t quite right.

Nothing makes me happier than when someone asks me to write a manifesto… even when it ends up on the cutting room floor, because that’s part of the process, and ultimately, that’s what life, marriage, art, dying, motherhood, grief, climbing, self-actualizing, is. A process. When you can make peace with it being a process, you can be good with the fact that there is no certainty, no definitive path, no absolute answer. Something that sounds right today will not work in a different situation. This was my version of workshopping that, after conducting a handful of in-depth, incredibly intense and beautiful interviews, and thinking non-stop about happiness for a few months. There is no life-changing magic. Don’t believe anyone who promises it to you. Life is the magic. Change is the system condition. 


Hustle harder. Lean in.  Find a Blue Zone. Eat clean. Drink green. Build a tribe. Have a mantra and ink it on your pink bits. Curse freely but ration your fucks. Spin incessantly in circles. Consume the sound bytes. Eat the rich. Eat the competition. Eat bacon, or donuts, or argue over the merits of chard versus kale. Leverage yourself. Insist on your deservingness. Choose joy and don’t forget to vision board it.

Or not… 

Opt out of the race, the game, the pyramid scheme, the con. Put down the phone. Stop running, even if it makes your palms sweat, and your heart triple-time an anxious riff, as everyone else blasts past. Take a breath and look around. Consider that it is and it isn’t, at the same time. Winning and losing and effort and ease. Up and down and yes and no. 

Expand your capacity to stand still and listen deeply. Be kind. Don’t fake it. Look askant at motivational speakers, solutions peddlers and star bloggers. Be open. Be cynical. Be present. Read a poem and sit with the momentary confusion. Take some, leave some. Win some, lose some. Craft manifestos and then walk away.

Everything is coming and going. Keep breathing. This moment is just a blip and a blessing. And so are you. As the late great Warren Miller said, “Don’t take life too seriously, because you can’t come out of it alive.” You won’t. But when you’re in it, be in it, as vitally, as presently, as breathlessly, as best you can.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Rob says:

    Prefer your manifesto to Welsh’s ‘Trainspotting’ monologue


    Or the Trainspotting 2 update:

    Great post! Thanks.

    1. Lisa Richardson says:

      I remember that one! High praise. (And less heroin required?!) Thanks Rob.

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